Areeb Majeed was lured into a honey trap by a faceless entity
During interrogations, Areeb Majeed also confessed to how he fell in love with a Facebook friend named Tahirah Bhatt, who, according to NIA officials, played a key role in indoctrinating youths to join ISIS
Tahirah was introduced to Majeed through Fahad as a resident of Syria. Around a month before the four youth left India to join ISIS, acting on a suggestion by Fahad, Tahirah sent a friend request to Majeed on Facebook. Majeed accepted the request, following which the duo connected and even had an affair on the social networking site.
Majeed told NIA officials that Tahirah claimed to have joined martyrdom operations in Palestine and, before that, she accepted Majeed as her husband on Facebook. Tahirah was known to Majeed only through her Facebook account, which is currently non-operational. She even operated through another two accounts named as ‘Holly Battle Cry’ and ‘Blaze of Glory’.
Investigating officials suspect that Tahirah’s profile is a fake one created by the social media wing of the ISIS group to serve as a honey trap and indoctrinate youngsters.
In his confession, Majeed revealed that he had never met Tahirah face to face and, despite, several requests by him, she had not agreed to reveal her face. She had sent her photographs only once, via Skype, but she was covered from head to toe in a burqa even in those.
Here is what Majeed told the NIA about his ladylove: Around two months before we left India, Fahad told me that he was in touch with a girl named Tahirah Bhatt, who lives in Syria, on Facebook. Fahad had already discussed the route to enter Syria with her.
In June 2014, a month before we left India, on the suggestion of Fahad, Tahirah sent me a friend request and I accepted it. Her Facebook id was ‘Tahirah Bhatt’ and Umm Bakiya Al Homsi (in Arabic). I started chatting with her regularly on Facebook through my login id: majeedsrule @gmail.com
During the chat sessions, she suggested that I should come to Syria via Turkey. But, by then, we had already booked our tickets to Baghdad, from where we were planning to enter Syria. We then asked her for a local contact who could help us in Baghdad.
Tahirah warned us that there was a huge risk involved in visiting Baghdad as we could get killed by the Shia army. Ten days before we left India, Tahirah gave us the number of one Abu Fatima, a resident of Mosul. Tahirah also claimed that she has many contacts in Baghdad, but no one would agree to help since it is a strong base of the Shia Army.
Till the time I reached Syria, Tahirah and I spoke only about reaching Syria and about arranging contacts. After I underwent training, Tahirah spoke to me about doing nikah (getting married) with me.
She even changed her status on her Facebook page, declaring that she was married to me. But, soon after the nikah on Facebook, I chose the martyrdom operation in Iraq, while she joined the jihad in Palestine.
We knew that we were going to die but, before that, she changed her status and it made me happy. It was only later that I realised that the only purpose of the update was to lure more and more Indians by sending friend requests to them through me.
She was constantly in touch with me from the time I left for Syria. During one of our conversations, she asked me for my email id and password so that she could send friend requests to more people in India and lure them to join jihad. “It was only then that Areeb realised that her love for him was fake and that it was a honey trap to lure youngsters like him to join jihad,” said an officer close to the investigation.
“My suspicion grew stronger when Tahirah refused to meet me face to face despite several requests. On July 27, which was Ramzan Eid, Tahirah sent me her photograph on Skype for the first time, but she was covered from head to toe in a burqa,” Majeed told the officials.
From the information received on Tahirah, officials believe that she is a key recruiter for young Muslims youths from across the world. She only interacts through Facebook chats and she never calls up or talks to the recruits face to face.
'My father took away my passport'
After my preparations were complete, I spoke to my parents and expressed my desire to visit Iraq in order to do Hijrat in the Land of Sham (region that earlier had the medieval Arab caliphate). But my father, Hijab Badruddin Majeed, did not support me and even took away my passport.
Hijab Majeed, Areeb Majeed’s father, was opposed to his plans to travel to Syria and had snatched his passport
I stole it back from his clinic one night. I continued planning the tour at the home of a friend named Faizal between May 22 and May 24. I kept some of my clothes at his house and we decided to leave our homes separately and meet at a pre-decided place. On May 24, I left for college and went to Mumbra market, bought a huge travel bag, stuffed my clothes in it, and met Fahad at Mumbra railway station.
Saheem and Amaan joined us in the taxi from Thane station. We then went to Mumbai international Airport and boarded a flight for Abu Dhabi. From there, we took yet another one to Baghdad, where we landed on the morning of May 25.